Next month I will be attending necessary training classes to become a foster parent. A couple of months ago I would never thought it would be possible. Everything has happened so fast.
My husband and I have been married for 16 years, and have five children, ages 24 to 2. Only three live at home, three boys ages 6, 6, and 2.
Tomorrow is my birthday, I can’t believe I’ll be 42! I’m definitely not getting any younger, but on the other hand I’m not quite ready to have my kids grow up quite yet. For the past 6 years I have been doing nothing but cleaning, cooking, and changing diapers, it seems!
You would think I would be ready to get all the behind me. In some ways I would be glad, but on the other hand I would also miss it. When we had our last baby, I knew that we wouldn’t have any more…mothers just know when they’re “done.”
So it came to a complete surprise to me that I would later want to become a foster parent. Probably about 6 months ago the Lord started bringing to my attention stories of babies and young children who needed foster parents. Not that I’d never heard it before, but all the sudden I couldn’t ignore it anymore. This was happening too close to home, and all around me. I couldn’t escape it.
And like my husband would go along with it…yeah right! After months of pondering and praying about what the Lord wanted me to do I brought it up with my husband. He didn’t come right out and say no…he didn’t really know what to say. I let him think about it for a couple of weeks and then started bringing up the subject up now and then just to see what he thought. Turns out he couldn’t ignore the stories either.
I read a great book called Another Place at the Table, by Kathy Harrison. Foster parenting is hard. It is heart breaking. It is life changing. It is not for everyone.
For years I have been praying that God show me how I can serve Him in ministry. I have tried serving in a number of different areas…youth group, women’s ministry, etc. I enjoyed those activities, but I feel that the Lord wants more from me…to push me beyond my limits to trust Him entirely and put my entire life into His hands.
As I have raised my children, I have realized how much I love children, and how much I love to nurture them and spend time with them. That is exactly what foster children need. According to Kathy Harrison, 90% of foster parenting is cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, and tucking kids into bed at night. I can do that. I know a lot of unpleasant things might come along with it, but someone needs to advocate for these children. They didn’t ask to be neglected or abused.
Other Ways to Help Less Fortunate Children
Becoming a foster parent is a huge commitment that not everyone is able to make. Plenty of people have the compassion it takes to make a difference in a child’s life, but don’t always have the time or resources to help a child in that way. There are always options for helping those that are less fortunate or have found life to be a difficult road. It is a rewarding feeling help change a child’s life and many ways to do it.
The first person generally involved with a child entering the foster program is a social worker. An individual that has received their social work masters or bachelors degree has acquired the skills it takes beyond compassion to help these children. They are the first defense in abused, neglected, and homeless children’s lives and will take the necessary precautions in getting a child’s life back on track.
People involved in Big Brother and Big Sister programs take on the roll of being involved in a child’s life to be a role model for a child that may not have the greatest background or outlook on life. These programs make it easy for compassionate people to help children without having to have a degree in human services.
A simple act of contributing to toy, coat, or food drives is perhaps the easiest way to give to a child who needs outside help. Contributions such as these can make a small difference to a child that doesn’t expect much in the way of material possessions.
These are just a few examples of ways people can get involved in the lives of children that need and deserve help. Being a foster parent is challenging, time consuming, and so rewarding. But if you can’t help out in that capacity, you can still help in some way. Life is about communicating love, and so many people have so much to give.